I have been asked and seen this question asked a lot lately. As writers, we each have our own personal methods of planning, writing and staying focused. These are things we, as individuals do, that work for us. Of course what works for one person, , in any aspect of life, doesn’t necessarily work for another person. You need to keep this in mind, when you are either sitting down to write, or researching the different methods for planning out a plot.
So, should you outline or wing it? I have done both of these and neither is the right answer. It is honestly a personal choice. I am much more creative when I am winging it, however I tend to get stuck more often. When I do get unstuck though, the writing flows and I feel free to change the story as it goes.
I have been outlining for the past year or so. Not long at all. I will say that the work I have produced in the last year, is so much better than what I had when I was winging it. I am able to sit down, plan the story, stay focused and get each chapter written. I didn’t have this luxury with winging it. Often times, I had so much revision to do at the end, that is almost didn’t make it worth it.
If you want my vote, I recommend outlining – it helps you stay on task, you can see the big picture ahead of time, you can make minor corrections as you go, and there is little chance for writers block, because you can easily transition into the next phase without getting stuck.
I won’t lie – there isn’t much room for changing though. If you outline ahead of time, and then you sit down to write, when something does change, it is more difficult to include it. You have to go back and change your whole outline in the middle of writing. Not always, but more often than not.
Which method do you prefer? Outlining or winging it? Why?
Here are two great outlining methods you can try: